New Mexico GOP-backed REAL ID fix passes

The New Mexico Roundhouse - 2015 Legislative Session

SANTA FE (AP) – A Republican-sponsored bill aimed at putting New Mexico in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act has passed in the House.

“This two-tier compromise ends the dangerous law of granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and ensures New Mexico citizens can board an aircraft without having to buy a passport. The Governor calls on Senate leadership to bring this compromise to a floor vote before time runs out and their inaction further negatively affects hard-working New Mexicans,” said Michael Lonergan with the Office of Governor Susana Martinez.

The proposal was approved 39-30 along largely party lines on Wednesday, setting up a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Under the proposal, New Mexico would begin issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and end the practice of granting state driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. Instead, the bill would allow such immigrants to obtain “driver’s permit cards.”

The bill has drawn angry responses from immigrant advocates and Democrats who say such cards would open up some immigrants to discrimination and possible deportation.

The Senate has yet to hold a committee meeting on its own REAL ID fix proposal creating a “two-tier” system.

New Mexico House Democrats tried to stall a GOP-proposal to make the state in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act by pushing an alternative.

Rep Javier Martinez of Albuquerque introduced Wednesday a plan that would create a “two-tier” system allowing immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses.

Members of the GOP-controlled House are debating both proposals Wednesday as lawmakers work to put New Mexico in compliance under the REAL ID Act.

Democrats and Republicans remain at odds whether immigrants living in the country illegally should continue to get state driver’s licenses or driver’s permit cards.

A New Mexico Latina GOP lawmaker is denouncing a Democratic lawmaker for comparing a Republican-backed REAL ID fix to slavery. Rep. Monica Youngblood said Wednesday that remarks by Rep. Javier Martinez posted on his Facebook page were “careless” and “unacceptable.” Martinez, an Albuquerque Democrat, compared the GOP bill to “sanctioned slavery” because it would “legitimize discrimination” against immigrants in the country illegally.

Under the proposal, New Mexico would begin to issue REAL ID-compliant licenses and end the practice of granting state driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. Instead, the bill would allow such immigrants to obtain “driver’s permit cards.”

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